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World Mental Health Day 2020: How To Spot Depression In Others? Expert Shares Tips

World Mental Health Day 2020: Depression is a common mental health issue which many ignore. It is important to watch out for symptoms of depression. In this article expert explains ways to identify depression in other and how to help them.

World Mental Health Day 2020: How To Spot Depression In Others? Expert Shares Tips

World Mental Health Day 2020: Do not ignore the signs and symptoms of depression

HIGHLIGHTS

  1. World Mental health Day is observed on 10th October
  2. Depression symptoms need medical assistance
  3. Mental health is as important as physical health

While depressive symptoms are common for all, they may manifest differently across age groups and thus may be more difficult to identify among certain populations, such as teenagers and the elderly. Among teenagers, these symptoms may be attributed to their general teenage angst, hormones, or them being plain lazy. On the other hand, ageism may account for us assuming that people are likely to display the symptoms of depression as they get older and this is "normal" - this accounts for us under-reporting depression among the elderly.

In general, one must look out for prolonged periods of persistent low mood (lasting over 2 weeks), increased irritability, changes in sleep and appetite (could be an increase or decrease), feelings of hopelessness, helplessness, and worthlessness expressed via action or speech, crying spells, excessive lethargy or tiredness that is not in proportion to the work done, a loss of interest in activities previously enjoyed (you may notice them either avoiding it or doing it but without the enjoyment you could see earlier), social withdrawal or difficulty connecting with people, difficulty making decisions, thinking, or concentrating on tasks, and a decreased sexual drive. They may also have increased alcohol or substance use, feelings of guilt, negative self-beliefs, and low self-esteem as a result.

They may also have suicidal ideations which could be active or passive in nature. Passive suicidal ideations may be noted in statements such as, "I wish I were dead", "It would be easier for everyone if I was dead", etc, while active suicidal ideations involve thoughts about killing oneself and may include plans about how they are going to execute the act. In this situation, you may find the individual making arrangements for their death, saying goodbye to their loved ones, and giving away their worldly possessions.

It is important however to note that it is not necessary for every individual to show all these symptoms and the individual may put on a mask of being happy while these feelings go on. It is therefore important to establish open, non-judgmental communication lines to allow the person to feel safe enough to tell you about how they're feeling.

Also read: World Mental Health Day 2020: Know How Lack Of Sleep Affects You Mentally

Now once we have learnt to identify depression amongst our loved ones, the next big question that arises is what can we do to help them?

As mentioned earlier, establish and maintain open, non-judgmental communication lines so that the individual feels safer coming to you to discuss their concerns. It is important to be attentive, empathetic and validate their feelings rather than comparing, blaming, or saying "I told you so". Do not gossip or joke about what they are telling you.

Read up on different mental health resources from credible sites so that you can try to support the person better. Be careful of the language you use when talking as you don't want to further add to the stigma around mental health, especially for your loved one who may already be dealing with it.

It is also important to be honest with them wherein if you can't understand what they're going through, tell them that. You could say something along the lines of: "It seems like you're in a difficult space. I'm not sure what I would do if I was in this situation, but I'm here if you need me." Also, ask what they need rather than assuming that they need the same thing you would want.

If you notice any suicidal ideations or risky behaviour, share that with someone who can help the person. It is important to share information if you feel the individual is at risk of harming themselves or another individual. Keep a list of emergency mental health helpline numbers with you which you can share with the individual.

Advocate consulting a mental health professional (counsellor/ psychologist/ therapist/ clinical psychologist/ psychiatrist) and accompany them for their first session to give them the moral boost they may require, only if they want.


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(Ms Ritika Aggarwal, Consultant Psychologist, Jaslok Hospital & Research Centre)

Disclaimer: The opinions expressed within this article are the personal opinions of the author. NDTV is not responsible for the accuracy, completeness, suitability, or validity of any information on this article. All information is provided on an as-is basis. The information, facts or opinions appearing in the article do not reflect the views of NDTV and NDTV does not assume any responsibility or liability for the same.

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